Ok, so it was supposed to be my free day. My day for writing something. Or listening to something, maybe. For singing loudly. A day for editing and researching books almost certainly. Last week though, following a weekend of ants enjoying a barn dance (or whatever it was they were up to) in my pants, I decided to forego My Monday and pop into the office. My head was in such a whirl and my body in such a tension cramp I wasn’t doing any of the things Monday was designed for anyway. You see, I thought by popping into the office I’d tick off those items on my ‘to do’ list that were bringing on the night sweats and the daytime heart thumps. By popping into the office, I’d clear my desk of paperwork bundles and unclog my brains. I threw on my jacket and headed for the train station. Garry tried to warn me. He did. He tried to warn me.
I’d been taking the pink pills for a week. They weren’t helping. Thinking the simplest of thoughts felt more like stumbling blindly through a room full of gym horses and cotton wool. Summoning words? Then speaking? Well that felt more like squeezing mashed potato through a piping bag. “Shphhht. Shphhhht. Huwo worwld. How ware wyou?” I heard my own voice in slow motion much of the time and also, and I’m not sure if this has any wider significance, I imagined my voice as male. In my head, I had a big ol’ slowed down man voice – a bit like the demon rabbit’s in Donnie Darko. My nose felt pretty much normal I think but my ears all blocked up – like I was wearing a space helmet or my head was in a fish tank. While my brains tried to escape the madness by banging their way through my skull – right through that bit above my right eye, I worried my neck might snap. I stumbled up the stairs to the office like a toddler and with slightly impaired vision, I greeted my colleagues with a floppy wave, a scrunched up face and a twitchy eye. “Hi”.
Almost immediately, as I sat there at my desk, facing the wall and struggling to tune in to the conversations going on in different areas of the room, I had to wonder just what the fuck I thought I was doing there. Catching a wonky eyed glimpse of myself on the reflective surface of my computer monitor, I realised I was swaying about in my seat like a weeble. Clutching the edge of the table with both hands, I got to my feet and began to touch pieces of paper. “Mm, paper. Should probably shuffle this a bit and ooo, I know! Staple stuff together! That will help.” Worried I might appear drunk to my boss, I made a point of walking around a little – just to prove I could – with limited success.
Between the migraine-related disorientation, the poor balance, brain fog and the inevitable eruption of Anxiety Mountain following weeks of over doing some things (panicking) and under doing others (eating and watching telly), I was far from sparkling. Christ, I wasn’t even so much as gently bubbling. You know when someone asks how you are and you let out a small lie and say you’re fine? And actually, you know the other person knows you’re not fine but they’re so kind they pretend you’re telling the truth – thus discouraging any crying/soul bearing and by seemingly glossing over the mess you’re in, they buy you a bit of extra time to pull yourself back together again? Well, that started to happen. But then it backfired. It backfired just at the bit where I was supposed to pull myself back together without anyone noticing I’d been sobbing all over the envelope I was addressing. I cried all over my boss’ sweater and made some terribly unbecoming wailing/choking noises. The tears were squirting out my face at such a rate my eyelids looked like two big, over-blown lilos. And, let’s face it, no one really wants to see anyone (let alone a grown woman in truly fabulous jeans) scoop their own snotters up in their hand, do they?
Before I knew it – and despite my protestations, I found myself bundled in the back of a taxi on my way to Harley Street. I wanted to feel less mad. I wanted the horrible ache above my twitchy eye to stop. I wanted to be able to say the right words in the right order. My boss also wanted to make absolutely sure I didn’t have a brain tumour. And I suppose that was quite important. As I waited in the consulting room, puffy eyed and embarrassed at having caused such a fuss, I tried to rehearse the words I needed to say to the doctor to make doubly sure they came out right. The door opened, and in he swaggered. Neil Diamond. He looked like Neil Diamond. The doctor looked exactly like Neil Diamond.
With thinning, swoopy dyed brown hair and a well brewed tea-coloured tan, I wondered which song he’d open his set with. Song Song Blue maybe? Hello? Instantly, I felt better. As I told Neil Diamond about my sore head and about the madness, I couldn’t help but stare at the wiry grey chest hair creeping out of his half undone shirt.
I wondered if I asked nicely he might do a wee rendition of Forever In Blue Jeans as part of my prescription. Neil Diamond explained that since I’d worked myself up into a big ball of anxiety and had little time away from computer screens etc., etc., he wasn’t so surprised my brains were in a bit of a jumble. “Yes, Neil. Of course. You are so very right. What a clever doctor you are. Who’d have thought it?” Neil confirmed I did not have a brain tumour and suggested I take some special pills for a few days to settle the blood vessels in my head.
As he gently ordered me to take a bit of rest, I bobbed about in my seat to the version of Cracklin’ Rosie that was playing out in my head. I do love that one. As Neil tapped away on his computer keyboard, his gold bracelet made a jangling noise – the jangling in perfect time to the Cracklin’ Rosie instrumental interlude.
I put the printed prescription in my pocket and prepared to leave. The urge to stand on the chair and sing I Am, I Said into my biro pen was overwhelming.
Now, I’d never been to a fancy doctor’s surgery before and I’m guessing I shan’t be visiting one again any time soon but man, a dose of Neil Diamond is surely the best medicine. Next time I’m ill, I’ll pull out my copy of Hot August Night and see if maybe I can channel healing through the grooves on the record.